Exploring Gemini – Twins, Apotheosis, and Binary Stars


GEMINI – The Twins

May 21 – June 21
3rd Sign of the Zodiac
Mutable Air Sign
Ruled by Mercury
Opposing Sign – Sagittarius
Tarot card: VI The Lovers
Anatomy: The Lungs & Pullmonary system, the Arms and Hands
Animals:  Birds – especially Finches, Magpie, Parrot & Mockingbird
Deities: Castor & Pollux, Apollo & Heracles, Janus, Frey & Freya, Hermes, Bast & Sekhmet

Gemini Traits

Gemini Traits – Intelligent, Thoughtful, Rational, Logical, Talkative, Expressive, Willing to learn, Thirst for Knowledge, Witty, Clever, Persuasive, Charming, Quick, Flexible, Adaptable, Energetic, Athletic, Trickster or Class-Clown, Impulsive, Changeable, Dual-natured, Indecisive, Anxious, Always On-The-Go, Easily Bored

The Dioscuri

Gemini constellation – Johannes Hevelius, Prodromus Astronomia, volume III: Firmamentum Sobiescianum, sive Uranographia, table DD: Gemini, 1690.

The twins of the Gemini constellation are named for the Greco-Roman stories of Castor and Pollux*, also known as The Dioscuri.  These brothers were twins – sons of the Spartan queen Leda.  However, they had different fathers.  Leda’s husband, the Spartan King Tyndareus was the father of Castor (Kastor), while Zeus was the father of Pollux (Polydeukes).  The twins also had a sister – Helen – daughter of Leda and Zeus.  (Yes, that famous Helen!) The brothers were said to have the greatest affection for eachother, always displaying support to the other and never getting into spiteful battles of sibling rivalry. (Though a friendly competitveness between the two is implied)  Castor was a renowned Horse Trainer and Pollux was known as a Boxer, a champion fighter.  Both became military generals and took part in the Voyage of The Argonauts.

Dioskouri – “Il Defonso Gruppo”. Roman copy of Greek statue, by Praxiteles C4th B.C.

The twins had one day attempted to steal some cattle and they were caught in the act.  When a fight broke out, Castor was killed.  His brother Pollux cried out to Zeus, for he did not want to live life as an immortal without his brother by his side.  He asked Zeus to make Castor an immortal so they may always be together.  Zeus agreed to allow Castor to live as an immortal, but only if his brother Pollux was willing to give up half of his time as immortal and give it to his brother.  Pollux agreed, and the twins alternate every other day between living among the Gods in Olympus, and dead in the Underworld.  Thus Castor was granted Apotheosis – a mortal man becoming a god, yet he and his twin spend half their time as gods and the other half dead.  For Pollux’s selfless gift of dedication to his brother, Zeus also granted the twins a place in the heavens as the Constellation Gemini.

As Gods, Castor and Pollux rule over Safe and Swift Travels, Protection of Guests, Travelers and sailors, and patron Gods of Horses, races, and the Olympic Games.
(( Read More at theoi.com ))  
* Some Greek and Roman authors attributed the constellation of Gemini to Apollo and Heracles – sons of Zeus with different mothers.

Astronomy of the Gemini Constellation –

The constellation Gemini has several interesting features, including a few binary stars (not suprising for the constellation of The Twins!) and some beautiful nebulas!  I have only included here a few of my favorites.

Gemini constellation

Pollux – β Geminorum (Beta Geminorum)

Pollux is the brightest star in Gemini and the 17th brightest star in the night sky. It is an evolved orange giant and is 33 light years distant from our solar system.  Beta Geminorum has about nine times the solar radius of our Sun, and is confirmed to have one planet in it’s orbit.  The planet, Pollux B, is at least 2 times the size of Jupiter and has an orbital period of 590 days.

Castor – α Geminorum (Alpha Geminorum)

Castor is the second brightest star in Gemini and the 44th brightest star in the sky. It is a visual binary star system, and each component is in itself a spectroscopic binary star, which makes Castor more technically a four-star system. Both components of the system are red dwarfs, and are about 51 light years from our sun.

U Geminorum

U Geminorum is a dwarf nova in Gemini constellation. It is a binary star composed of a white dwarf that closely orbits a red dwarf star. About every 100 days, the star has an outburst that causes a dramatic increase in brightness and luminosity. The two dwarfs have an orbital period of just 4 hours and 11 minutes, very rapid for a binary system!

Eskimo Nebula
Eskimo Nebula – photo from NASA’s Hubble Telescope, 1999

Eskimo Nebula (NGC 2392, Caldwell 39)

The Eskimo Nebula is a bipolar double-shell planetary nebula in Gemini.  (To be honest I’m not sure what a bipolar double shell planetary nebula IS, but it sounds very Gemini and I love the beauty of it!) The nebula is surrounded by a layer of gas that used to form the outer layers of a star similar to our Sun.

NGC 2371-2 

NGC 2371, image: Friendlystar at wikipedia.org

NGC 2371-2 is a planetary nebula in Gemini. It is a dual lobed nebula, one that looks like it could be two different, separate objects – which is why it was originaly recorded as two seperate listings in the New General Catalogue, NGC 2371 and NGC 2372.  The nebula is located to the southwest of the bright star Castor.

(read more about the stars and nebulas of Gemini at Constellation Guide)


Gemini’s lessons – Duality and Change

I find it fascinating that within these heavenly bodies we can see traits of Gemini; dualistic, changeable, expressive systems in which two are one.  Gemini can teach us about the dualistic nature of all the universe and how partnerships can be so fruitful and beautiful with the right blend of compatability and devotion!  Yet the existence of Nebulas such as the ones seen above remind us that nothing is permanent – not even the stars.  All is fleeting, ever changing and shifting to play different roles in the cosmos at different times – just like Gemini.

I’ll be back later to talk about Gemini and the Tarot Card VI The Lovers!